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CD booklet
Par quatre chemins

Record International
July 26, 2018

Three very engaging quartets, rather different but all tonal and instantly accessible. Dompierre frequently incorporates elements of ‘light’ music and jazz into his immensely enjoyable compositions—see also 10S092 and 11O079—without sacrificing their thoroughly ‘classical’ craftsmanship. The first movement of his quartet is based on a hornpipe, with an appropriately Irish-folky feel. The second is a lament which suddenly breaks into a sultry dance in its central section, before succumbing to despair and finally, resignation. As though to say ‘it’s not that bad really’, the following movement is an elegant, slightly trivial waltz, and the one after that, an elegant pavane with a touch of sentimentality. The finale, which sounds like a typical Romantic scherzo-finale is actually a set of variations on ’What a Wonderful World’. Ichmouratov’s 4th Quartet is the most conventionally neo-romantic piece here, and in some ways the most satisfying. The work has an in memoriam subtext, and the idea of ‘time and fate’ recurs throughout in the form of mechanically ticking rhythms, but not in the modernistic sense that one might expect of a quartet written in 2012; more in the nature of Beethoven’s metronome in the 8th Symphony. Ichmouratov’s scherzo is in fact a ‘metronomic’ waltz. The slow movement is the tragic heart of the piece, an eloquent, sorrowful lament. Particularly in the restless, driven outer movements there is a strong sense of the Canadian-domiciled composer’s Russian origins (via the usual suspects including but by no means limited to, Shostakovich). Brady’s piece is the least conventional; like our previous offering (09R075) it draws on his experimental background but in an individual, approachable idiom not exactly related to, but recalling the ‘Bang on a Can’ composers, with their post-minimalist, rock-acknowledging driving rhythms. If you like David Lang, you’ll definitely like this. The piece alternates driving, motoric sections in which the quartet is used rhythmically and percussively, with limited pitch material, and fluid, sonorously plastic episodes…

© 2018 Records International

Classical Lost and Found
April 2, 2018

Since 2012 three discs with music devoted to Canadian composers have earned CROCKS “Best Find” ratings (see 30 September 2012, 10 June 2014 and 31 October 2015). Now here’s a fourth with some works for string quartet by three of their compatriots, and come next year, it may well join the CDs just mentioned. They’re the only recordings of these currently available on disc.  

Full review HERE

The WholeNote
April 1, 2018

Fast forward 210 years or so and there’s Canadian string quartet music from the 21st century on Par quatre chemins, the latest CD from the New Orford String Quartet (ATMA Classique ACD2 2740 atmaclassique. com).

The CD takes its title from the five-movement work by François Dompierre that opens the disc. It’s a really attractive and strongly tonal work with decided dance influences. Commissioned by the Orford Arts Centre, it was premiered by these performers in 2015. The other two works on the CD were both commissioned by the New Orford quartet. Airat Ichmouratov wrote his String Quartet No.4 Op.35, “Time and Fate” in 2012, following the sudden death of his close friend Eleanor Turovsky, the first violinist of I Musici de Montreal. Again, it’s an extremely attractive four-movement work with a particularly lovely third movement.

Tim Brady’s Journal (String Quartet No.2) was written in 2013, 33 years after Brady’s previous work in the genre. Inspired simply by “the opportunity to write music for such amazing players,” it has seven sections played without pause, the composer likening this to turning pages in a diary or journal. It’s a tougher work than the other two, with a cinematic feel to the music at times, but is another very strong and extremely well-written composition. The NOSQ’s playing throughout is exemplary in what can be viewed as definitive performances.

Terry Robbins – The WholeNote  

Medium large
March 2, 2018

L'altiste et chroniqueur Frédéric Lambert parle des meilleures parutions récentes et des concerts à venir en musique classique. Il est question de l'album Par quatre chemins, de l'ensemble canadien New Orford String Quartet, consacré à des œuvres de François Dompierre, d'Airat Ichmouratov et de Tim Brady. Selon notre chroniqueur, c'est un album facile d'écoute, très tonal, et un bel exemple de musique contemporaine accessible.  

To listen to Frédéric Lambertat  Medium large: HERE

Samedi et rien d'autre
February 17, 2018

«3 quatuors à cordes [...] 3 compositeurs de chez-nous, je pense que c'est une chose qu'il faut absolument avoir dans la discothèque », Edgard Fruitier à propos de « Par 4 chemins » avec le New Orford String Quartet.

Chronique complète à l'émission Samedi et rien d'autre, à ICI Radio-Canada Première: 

CBC Music First Play
February 8, 2018

"One of our core missions is to perform existing Canadian music and to commission new works from Canadian composers," says Brian Manker, cellist of the New Orford String Quartet (NOSQ). The quartet's latest album, Par quatre chemins, features three new works by Canadian composers — François Dompierre, Airat Ichmouratov and Tim Brady — and is streaming in the player to your left until its Feb. 16 release on ATMA Classique.

"If time was unlimited, I think we would record all of the works we’ve commissioned," continues Manker. "But alas, we are subject to human limits. We want people to hear these works that we’ve enjoyed grappling with, adding to the ‘catalogue’ if you will, placing these new works out there alongside the classics."

In addition to Manker, the NOSQ comprises Jonathan Crow and Andrew Wan (violins) and Eric Nowlin (viola) — all first chairs of either the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal or the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, their recording of string quartets by Brahms won the Juno Award for classical album of the year: solo or chamber ensemble.

'Multifaceted Canadian identity'

Manker says selecting the repertoire for their latest album was a difficult task. "We had to start somewhere, leaving out (for now) other works that we feel merit consideration. In the end, we went with the works we had the most performance experience with, and somehow we have a nice cross-section of the multifaceted Canadian identity represented by each composer."

The album takes its title from the first work on the disc, Dompierre's Par quatre chemins, whose five movements Manker describes as "jazzy, Latin at times; cinematic, even. It’s lyrical, energetic, elegant, clever and witty. I think people will love the Pavane!" Dompierre attended some of the recording sessions and, Manker says, made useful suggestions.

Next is Ichmouratov's String Quartet No. 4, Op. 35. "Airat’s quartet is emotional," reflects Manker of this four-movement work. "His musical language picks up where Prokofiev leaves off. He has a gift for melody and the music has motion, sweeping forward. The violin writing is brilliant."

Manker says Brady's one-movement String Quartet No. 2 ("Journal") is the most "modern-sounding" on the disc. "There are pulsating passages that surge, liquid, with plasticity."

With its ninth anniversary coming up this summer, a new album out, and no personnel changes since day 1, the NOSQ is on a roll. "We have some tours planned in the coming months and years, we’re as busy as we could possibly be! The chemistry in the group is fantastic, I feel our communication — the unspoken, musical communication — is deeper and more in synch every time we play," enthuses Manker, adding, "There is a familiarity that is very, very comfortable."

The NOSQ's Par quatre chemins will be released on Feb. 16. Pre-order it here.

Robert Rowat - CBC Music